Guide: Tailoring Examples and Exercises
for the Working With Others Training Program
Raphael L. Vitalo, Ph.D. and Patricia V. Bierley
The Working With Others (WWO) Training Program is a one-day training course
that prepares participants to work with others in ways that elevate the success
of all. It teaches skills that enable participants to understand the ideas and
information others are sharing and to express their own ideas in ways that keep
group members connected and moving toward their common goal. The Working With
Others (WWO) skills are clarifying and confirming, which build
an accurate picture of what another person is sharing, and constructive criticism
and hitchhiking, which allow a person to add his or her ideas in a way
that builds better solutions while maintaining positive relationships. The training
is conducted in an action-learning format where participants apply the skills
to accomplish an actual business purpose as they learn them. This union of learning
and application engages participants, builds their capabilities, and produces
immediate benefits to the company sponsoring the training.
Tailoring the WWO Training
There are two ways to tailor the WWO training. The first is to exchange the
stimulus materials (e.g., dialogs that demonstrate each WWO skill, statements
used in exercises) with materials that better reflect your learners’ language
and performance context (e.g., work, home, community, school). We call this
personalizing the training to the learners. For example, in our training with
YMCAs, we replace the examples and exercise materials that emphasize worker-to-worker
communication in a commercial business with exchanges that occur between YMCA
counselors and members in its community service context. Even in for-profit
businesses, we modify the examples and exercises to better reflect the roles
of the trainees and the issues they tend to discuss.
The second way we tailor the training is by replacing the default problem used
in the training’s application exercise (Modules 3 and 5) with an actual
problem that the learners need and want to address. For example, we have used
the WWO training as a platform for resolving issues like how to elevate employee
involvement, heighten customer focus, reduce cost or improve quality in a work
process, and a host of other business improvement goals.
The Purpose of This Guide
This guide assists you in accomplishing the first type of tailoring—personalizing
the examples and written exercises to your training audience. This form of tailoring
heightens the audience’s response to the training content and helps the
transfer of learning from training to the context within which improved communications
is sought. While we have repeatedly and successfully trained these skills using
the training materials as supplied, we have always noted that learners respond
with appreciation to materials that contain language and depict situations with
which they can immediately relate. Such materials make the task of learning
When to Tailor Examples and Exercises and What
You Will Need
Consider tailoring the WWO materials whenever the group you will teach is very
different in background or roles from the people depicted in the supplied materials.
To accomplish the tailoring, you first need to master the training as presented
in the original materials so that you understand the purpose of each example
and exercise. This knowledge will insure that you do not alter the intent of
the training materials as you modify the language used and the situations depicted.
You also need access to someone familiar with the people you will teach and
the context in which they communicate. This person will provide the information
you need to tailor the examples and exercises and provide you feedback as to
how well you have accomplished the tailoring. Finally, you need to use the Working
With Others Instructional Tools CD-ROM. It contains an electronic version of
the participant coursebook that identifies the pages you may modify. It allows
you to print the electronic coursebook, insert your tailored content, and reproduce
the coursebook for your learners. You may not use the electronic coursebook
as a substitute for the published Working With Others Participant Coursebook
unless you are tailoring its content in the manner permitted.
Method for Tailoring Stimulus
Getting Ready Steps
1. Learn about your trainees.
Tip: Identify a person who can tell you about the people you
will teach. Obtain the names of the participants and their contact information
(mailing address, e-mail address, telephone number). Learn about the people
you will teach so that you can relate the instruction to them and them to
the instruction. Be sure you understand their roles and the contexts in which
they will use their communication skills. Appreciate any unique language they
use and customs they keep. Know what values are important to them within the
contexts in which they will use their communication skills.
2. Identify what content needs to be tailored, if any.
a. Review the examples and exercises whose content you may need to tailor.
Tip: Exhibit 1 lists the pages that may be tailored. Read each
carefully and judge whether the language and situations depicted in the examples
and exercises match satisfactorily the language of the learners and the roles
and context in which they will use their communication skills.
Example and Exercise Content That May Be Tailored
||Building a Picture of What
Another Person Is Sharing
||Clarifying and Confirming
||Constructive Criticism Examples
||Constructive Criticism Written
||Hitchhiking Written Exercise
||Instructor Aid-3: Koosh Ball
b. List the content you need to tailor.
1. Prepare substitute content.
Tip: Stay close to the format used in the supplied examples
and exercises. Focus on modifying language and context only. Many times all
that is needed to alter the names of the characters and departments used in
the dialogs and the titles of their roles. Sometimes you need to change the
topics about which the statements speak. If topics must be changed, begin
by listing what conversations commonly arise in the learners' setting. Identify
the topics of these conversations and what comments people typically make
about these topics. This provides you the essential information you need to
modify every example and exercise statement. Do not forget, however, that
you also must generate the correct responses (e.g., clarifications, confirmations,
constructive criticisms, or hitchhikes) to your substituted content.
2. Check the substitute content you created.
Tip: Read each new statement carefully and judge whether the
language and situations depicted in it match satisfactorily the language of
the learners and the roles and context in which they will use their communication
skills. Ensure that it also fulfills the same purpose as the statement it
replaces. Finally, verify that each response you generated to a new statement
correctly executes the skill being demonstrated or practiced.
3. Verify that the substitute content better suits the learners.
Tip: Have the person who is knowledgeable about the training
audience review your new content to confirm that it suits the learners you
will teach. Make adjustments, as his or her feedback requires.
Following Up Steps
1. Produce the substitute content.
Tip: Use you word processor to replicate the format of participant
coursebook pages you will replace. Check the grammar and spelling of what
you produce, then print your materials.
2. Assemble a tailored Working With Others Participant Coursebook for
Tip: The Working With Others Instructional Tools CD-ROM contains
an electronic version of the coursebook that identifies the pages you may
modify. You may print the electronic coursebook, insert your tailored content,
and reproduce the coursebook for your learners. Remember, you may not use
the electronic coursebook as a substitute for the published coursebook unless
you are tailoring its content in the manner permitted.
Use the following checklist to verify that the task was done correctly.
| 1. Learned about your trainees.
| 2. Identified what content needed to be tailored,
| 1. Prepared substitute content.
| 2. Checked the substitute content you created.
| 3. Verified that the substitute content better
suits the learners.
| 1. Produced the substitute content.
| 2. Assembled a tailored Working With Others
Participant Coursebook for reproduction.
- Use the least approach to tailoring content—change only what
is required. Never change any element that is not allowed under the terms
Building a Picture of What Another Person Is
This example shows how Dialog 2 (page 16 in the Working With Others Participant
Coursebook) was changed to better match with the context of learners who
work in a community setting. First, we will reproduce the dialog as it appears
in the Working With Others Participant Coursebook. Then, we will show
its modified version for the community group we trained.
Original Dialog 2
Olivia and Lou are managers. Olivia wants to send one of Lou’s engineers,
Sam, to talk to a client and get the client’s specifications for a new
Lou: “Oh no! Whatever you do, don’t use Sam!”
Olivia: “I don’t understand. What’s the matter with
Lou: “He just doesn’t have the skills to do the job.”
Olivia: “What skills does he lack?”
Lou: “Well, there are seven or eight people he would
need to talk with by Friday. A number of these contacts have difficulty saying
exactly what they need. Sam is new here, and I don’t think he knows all
the questions that must be answered to get good information. I know Sam is also
really busy right now and is worried about keeping up on his projects. I think
you need someone with more experience and comfort.”
Olivia: “Who do you think might be better?”
Lou: “Jack or Victor. Both have experience in getting
customer specifications where many people are talking for the customer. Both
know our products really well.”
Olivia: “Are they both available?”
Lou: “Yes. Jack is just finishing a project. Victor
is coming back from vacation.”
Olivia: “You’re saying that Jack or Victor are better choices
than Sam for this assignment because Sam is inexperienced in getting customer
specifications and stressed just trying to keep up with his current load. On
the other hand, both Jack and Victor are experienced and available. You’re
concerned that I’d be making a mistake that could harm us all by using
Sam since he is not a seasoned veteran at getting customer specs and can’t
give the task the attention it requires.”
Dialog 2 Tailored for a Community Context
Olivia and Louise are neighbors who organized a community group to work with
local businesses to help fund children’s sports activities. Olivia wants
to send another neighbor, Sam, to talk to business owners about sponsoring some
teams this spring.
Louise: “Oh no! Whatever you do, don’t use Sam!”
Olivia: “I don’t understand. What’s the matter with
Louise: “He just doesn’t have the skills to do the job.”
Olivia: “What are the skills you are talking about?”
Louise: “The person we need must be able to talk to a group of
eight business owners this Friday. Sam isn’t comfortable talking to groups.
I know he is also really busy at work and is worried about what is happening
there. We need a representative who has more experience and comfort talking
Olivia: “Let me make sure I understand this. You’re saying
that Sam is not comfortable talking to groups and he is preoccupied with his
job. You are concerned that he does not have the skills or focus needed to help
us with this task and that by using Sam we’d be making a mistake that
could harm our efforts.”
Published April 2004
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